Pre-interview screening: The telephone or video interview

The impressions you make here will determine whether you onsite for a next interview

Paula S. Katz | April 30, 2015

While you may be anxious to fly out to see the hospital or practice and community where your dream job is located, be prepared for the employer to conduct preliminary telephone or video interviews. The impressions you make in those settings will determine whether they want to spend the money to bring you onsite.

The telephone interview may be conducted by a recruiting firm and/or a representative from the practice or organization that’s looking to hire. You should have questions prepared, especially about deal-breaker issues such as loan repayment programs, but expect employers to do much of the asking. This is a chance for them to confirm information on your CV, ask about your practice interests, and clarify any questions they may have (e.g., gaps in employment or training).

In the process, they’ll be evaluating your communication skills—particularly when it comes to discussing clinical information—and your level of enthusiasm, says Regina Levison, vice president, client development, Jordan Search Consultants, St. Louis.

“Listen closely to the questions, don’t interrupt, and if English is a second language, slow down when speaking … so the person on the other end will understand you. If they don’t, it pretty much ends there. They’ll feel if the caller can’t understand the candidate, how will the patients and patient families?” she says.

What you’ll be asked specifically will depend on your level of experience. A young physician may be asked for details about his or her training and training program as well as the following questions: What section of family medicine do you like best? Do you work from newborn to elderly? A surgeon may be asked specific questions about surgical procedures or skills. Questions also depend on the interviewer. If you speak with a physician, for example, expect a lot of clinical questions.

No matter your specialty, expect to be asked why you’re interested in the community where the job is. “It’s a key question for the employer,” Ms. Levison says. “You need to be able to answer this.”

Phone interviews can take from five minutes to a couple of hours, so your biggest challenge may be in finding the right time and place to do one, says Tommy Bohannon, divisional vice president, Merritt Hawkins, Irving, Texas.

After the telephone interview you may be asked to participate in a video interview via Facetime or Skype. While only 5% or so of employers are currently taking this next screening step, Ms. Levison says that number may increase because the technology is fast, inexpensive and convenient. As with onsite visits, employers during this screening will be gauging your mannerisms, appearance and level of engagement, says Mr. Bohannon.

Keep in mind that a video interview is not usually intended to replace an onsite visit. The exceptions are physicians who are deployed or working abroad and not available to make an onsite visit for many months, Mr. Bohannon says.

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